Tag Archives: The Village Green

An Evening with Ruby Bridges

Last night I had the opportunity to have a (partially) private interview with Ruby Bridges. I cannot put into words how incredible this was. Here is a link to the story I wrote for The Village Green.

This is a woman I have admired for years and wrote about her in 2013, long before I ever thought I’d have the chance to meet her in person!

She is an incredible role model and I am thrilled to have been in her presence.


The photo prompt theme for the day is Pink. 


I found this in the snow this afternoon. The dirty, old, ice caked, tire marked, nasty snow. They must have been left over from yesterday’s Chocolate Walk in town.

No one likes this kind of snow.  It is time for it to melt, but no such luck since an ice/snow/sleet/rain storm is on the way.  The weather forecasters aren’t sure how to call this one.  Especially after the last blizzard that never arrived!!  At least not here in New Jersey!!  I am hoping for another no-show and it doesn’t arrive, but if it does, at least it will look pretty again.  At least for a day or so!

Dickens Village

dickens christmas

It is a tradition in our town for Santa to arrive on the first Saturday of December.  He shows up on a firetruck, sirens blaring and arrives in the center of the village where Dickens Village is set up.  Miniature houses – child sized actually – are set up in Ricalton Square where children and adults peek into the charming windows to catch a glimpse of life from “way back when.”

Today, I was on hand to take photos of the festivities for The Village Green.  It had been a gray, drizzly morning and there was talk about postponing the event but since the rain seemed to settle down, they went ahead with it.  Just before Santa’s arrival, and the entire time he was there, it poured! Instead of a “White Christmas,” Santa arrived to a “Wet Christmas” and instead of the street being lined with families bundled up in scarves and snow boots, it was lined with umbrellas and rainboots. This didn’t stop the excitement of the children though.  Their faces lit up with the magic of Santa and it seemed the rain didn’t bother them a bit.

The crowd was smaller than it had been in past years, but lucky for everyone, there are two more weeks to come and visit Santa in town! He won’t be arriving on a firetruck, but will be happily sitting in “Santa’s House” to hear Christmas wish lists.

Each of the houses in Dickens Village are sponsored by merchants and locals and this year, “The Cratchit House” is dedicated to my mom and Francine.  Mom would have loved it!  This was her favorite time of the year and she got caught up in the spirit of Christmas every year.  I am sure she was smiling down on the crowd today…although she’d probably have something to say about me being out there without an umbrella.  I was soaked!

IMG_1677 IMG_1678

The Village


This morning, I was able to meet a friend for a cup of tea in “The Village.” We are on The HSA (Home School Association) for our children’s middle school and we are planning a canteen, (dance) for the 7th grade.

As I sat at a table in the quaint little coffee shop, I noticed all of the little details of the building.  The original brick structure, the ceiling, the floors. It is one of the things I love most about living in my town.  Our “Village” is my favorite part of town and a huge selling point.  I looked up the definition of “Village” today and found this,

a group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area.

Maplewood itself is far from rural, but it is not a big city either. The population is 24,000 yet our village pulls it all together with its charm and allure. It truly feels like you stepped back in time as you enter.  Sometimes referred to as “Mayberry”, The Village is only four blocks long.  It is filled with tiny mom and pop shops and restaurants.  Although most of the stores have changed since I was a child, the structure and integrity of the buildings hasn’t.  I remember the small pharmacy, Ken’s , the tiny pet shop, and the 5 & 10.  All of them are long gone, as is Eva’s Toy Shop and Bobbi’s Barn which sold clothes for teens.  I couldn’t wait to shop there as a kid and when I was finally old enough to fit into their clothes, it had closed.  There were very few restaurants back then.  The Mapleleaf, a diner is still around, though it has moved from a tiny corner shop to a larger location.  Dave’s favorite was Savidi’s Deli.  Every Sunday he’d get his favorite sandwich there after his soccer tournaments at the middle school which is right around the corner.  They are no longer there but a few new sandwich shops have opened up.

There are a few original stores still there.  The Barber Shop, (which changed names a few times,) feels like you’ve stepped back into time when you enter. The Maplewood Stationers, my dad’s shop, has been around since the 1920’s.  There have been very few owners.  About twenty years ago, my dad, who is probably as nostalgic as I am, heard that the store was going to shut down.  He grew up in Maplewood  and had many fond memories of the store as a kid. He had just retired from Wall Street – with NO small business experience – but decided to give it a go and buy the business.  It is far from a money maker – if anything, probably more of the opposite, but it is one of those businesses that is a staple to the town.

No big chains are allowed to move into The Village due to variances and I am happy about that.  It keeps the character of The Village in tact.  Most of the buildings have small apartments above them.  All walk ups with charming little entrances to walk through.

One thing that has changed is the number of restaurants in town.  There are so many to choose from.  Nights are bustling! Only three of them have a liquor license so the rest are BYO.  This is another “charming” thing about The Village.

The theater has always drawn a crowd.  it dates back to 1927 and began as one of the largest combined vaudeville/movie houses in New Jersey before moving on to a movie theater.  In 1988, unable to fill the large theater, it was turned into a six-plex.  Even these theaters are quaint though – some holding less that fifty people.  I can remember during the renovation, being able to catch glimpses of the original ceiling and wishing that it could be uncovered and restored.

You get a lot of that charm still in town though. All of the store owners know each other and look out for each other.  They know their customers by name and that only adds to the charm.  We are lucky to live here!


happy halloween

I guess I’d have to consider today a success.  Halloween has never been my favorite school holiday to celebrate.  The kids are so excited it is hard to get much accomplished, but today was a relatively smooth day.  It was followed by the town parade which brings out thousands of people.  The costumes this year were terrific.  I had been asked to take photos for the local website The Village Green,  and there were so many great ones to choose from.

Every year since I can remember, Drew has wanted to win a prize and this year, he did!  He was so excited.  His Play Doh costume was a hit!  After the parade, he went trick or treating with a group of friends and got one of the biggest bags of candy he has ever collected.  I don’t even know what we are going to do with all of it.  I told him tomorrow we could sort it out and  give away the stuff we aren’t going to eat.  With four candy lovers in our family, (who all enjoy different kinds) there might not be much to give away!  I might have to start looking for recipes that incorporate a lot of candy and stock up on toothpaste!  Dentists must love this time of year!!



Today was one of those days where I really didn’t know what to write about and now it is nearly 10 p and I still haven’t written my blog for the day.  On days like today, I like to see if anything inspires me and gives me that spark to write.  There are so many days that I have no problem getting something written and other days like today where I wait and wait for a prompt and am left with nothing.

Emmy Lou woke us up at 5:30 am, on my one sleep in day looking for a morning walk.  I woke with a headache which always makes it difficult to go back to sleep so I took her for a morning walk and snuggled up on the couch hoping that my medicine would kick in and I’d get back to sleep.  I didn’t but at least my headache went away.

I took one of my favorite classes with one of my favorite friends and it was a great start to the day.  My blog is always on my mind and I am always looking for something to ignite an idea and during class one of the ladies in the group told me a funny story about looking in the mirror and noticing how great her arms were looking…until she realized that they weren’t her arms, but they were mine!  A nice compliment which gave me a big laugh.

I was able to make our new favorite treat, White Chocolate Salted Caramel Rice Krispie treats for our new neighbors and Drew and I dropped them off and welcomed them to the neighborhood.  I tried a new recipe for Drew, homemade bbq potato chips that are supposed to be just like Famous Dave’s BBQ chips.  Dave and I declared them to be a pretty close rival but I still haven’t totally won Drew over on them.  He ate them though…and that was a big step!

Overall, a pretty good day up until then, but still, not enough to write an entire blog about.

Sadly, this morning I read about a local mom who was only 42, who lost her battle with cancer today.  I did not know her but she and her family have been on my mind all day.  If I had known more about her, I would have shared her story and the amazing stories of courage and love I have read about her today.

Tonight, the boys went to a movie with my brothers and Dave and I stayed home and watched, The Butler, which was quite possibly one of the best movies that I have seen in a very long time.  It made me so sad to know that only 5o years ago, so much segregation and hatred was still going on.  I can’t imagine living in a world where we could not all live together the way we do today.  It reminded me of when I talk to my students about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.  The looks on their faces when we talk about it are filled with bewilderment and confusion.

All of these things throughout the day, led me to write today’s blog.  Just a lot of things that made up a pretty “regular day.”  I guess not everyday is a story in itself, but a lot of little things that make up my life.

Its Time for Maplewoodstock Again!

its more than music

It is that time of year again!  Maplewoodstock!  A big music festival that has been held in our town for eleven years. It has become somewhat of a holiday in our town with people counting down the days for it to arrive!  Maplewoodstock began in 2004 to promote local bands from the Maplewood and South Orange communities but over the last ten years, the show has grown into something much bigger and now brings in not only locals but talent from all over. This year, one of the big headliners performing, include Nora Jones.  It is sure to be a fun filled weekend.

Maplewoodstock is a completely volunteer run weekend and the amount of time and effort these volunteers have put into this weekend is amazing. The event is free for everyone.  The best part it is that it is so much more than just music. There are local  vendors selling their artwork,  local restaurants selling their most popular dishes, a kids area and even a beer garden.

This year, I will be taking photos for The Village Green throughout the day. A photographic montage of sorts.  Dave and I went to the park early to claim a spot and brought a tent and some blankets.  It is such a fun, relaxed day to meet up with friends.  I look forward to it every year and today’s incredible weather is only going to make it better!

4th Of July in Maplewood


Last year, Mic.com listed Maplewood as “one of 9 towns that really knows how to celebrate” the 4th of July saying,

Forget the traditional parade and fireworks routine. Maplewood, N.J.  offers both festivities and then some! The town spices up your standard fourth of July celebration by putting on The Zerbini Family Circus for the town to enjoy. The circus features a trapeze and acrobatics, clown acts and even elephant performances and is definitely a unique way of celebrating America’s special day. The day also features various competitions including relay races, a pet awards show, an ice cream eating contest and a pie-baking showdown. 

Fourth of July festivities began in Maplewood 112 years ago.  For many years, my parents used to volunteer when the Jaycess organized the whole day. Now, it is run differently and the town, the YMCA, and other local groups help to make the day a success each year.  We still all participate though.  The races, the fireworks, the circus…

Last summer, after cleaning out one of my mom’s drawers while we were going through her things, I cam across this article from 1974.  I put it in a pile of “stuff to go through and just happened to find it this afternoon.  Perfect since tomorrow is the 4th!

4th of july news record 1974

I can actually remember that day.  I was at the top of the metal slide in the park.  My parents were working one of the booths.  I fell from the top and landed on my head.  At four years old, I remember it being so, so high up!  My mom brought me over to the first aid station where I got ice and they took care of me.  Mom was always very conscious of us appreciating what others do for us and had us write thank you notes for everything, so with her help, I wrote them a thank you note which got published in the town’s weekly paper, The News Record.  Of course, my mom saved it and I am grateful that she did!

Reading this article, I came across names of people that I believe are still recognized names in town.  I am not surprised that even back then, 40 years ago, Maplewood had a “Peace and Community Action” committee.  Back then, the races were held with schools competing against one another but not now although the races are still held and ribbons are awarded.

Tomorrow, rain is expected. I can’t even remember the last time it rained on The 4th of July here.  If all goes well, and the weather holds up, I will be taking photos for The Village Green.   I love doing this.  I can be part of the day’s festivities and capture the memories for others.   Who knows, someday, 40 years from now, someone else might come across and old photo or memory from the day like I did today.  I can only hope that the Maplewood traditions are still going on!

The Village Green

starting a new venture

The Village Green of Maplewood South Orange is a new venture by Mary Barr Mann and Carolyn Maynard-Parisi. Both women are experienced journalists who I got to know while doing freelance photography for Patch.com.  After Patch took a different turn with their local reporting, both of them decided it was time for them to leave .  Mary told me that after leaving both she and Carolyn were continually approached by folks begging them to start something new, bring back the old Patch, etc.  Carolyn agreed saying, “Many local news ventures don’t succeed, but I think we have a great chance making a go at this because the community knows and trusts us and has already shown such support – and we have been up and running less than a month!”

A few months ago, they approached me asking if I’d be interested in doing some more photography with a “new website they were starting.”  I was excited for them and enthusiastically told them yes!  I could not wait to hear more about their new project. Earlier this month, I got an email asking if I could do Fourth of July photos for the new site.  Of course I agreed!  I had taken photos at community events for years while working for Patch.  It was always so much fun to do.  I got the chance to be out and about in the community celebrating our two towns and reporting happy news.  It is what I loved to do and I loved seeing the photos up on Patch.com.  I was sad when that job ended so I am really looking forward to doing it again.

I loved when Patch.com was about neighborhood events and small town news.  I loved that I could go to maplewoodpatch or southorangepatch and see local freelance writers and photographers reporting about the community, but after it changed, it was missing that home town feel that it used to have.  The Village Green wants to bring that back and I am all for it!

The Village Green provides day-to-day, granular news coverage of the issues that matter to the people of Maplewood, South Orange, and environs — including education, redevelopment, taxes, public safety, governance, local business, the arts and culture, and lifestyle — with fairness, thoroughness, humanity and a distinct voice.

The photography job doesn’t pay a lot, but I call it my “lunch money” or “manicure money.”  Truthfully for me, it isn’t so much about the money.  I have written about how much I love my community many times on my blog, and promoting it through photography, my favorite hobby, is a pleasure!  Getting paid for it is just a bonus!

I am so excited to start working for them!  I wish them all the success in the world!  Locals, check out their site.  I am sure you won’t be disappointed!